SEPTA Union Prez Worried Members May Reject Contract That Ended Strike

Union president Willie Brown is hoping for strong turnout for a vote Friday evening.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Willie Brown, the president of the SEPTA workers union that went on strike earlier this month, is worried his members may not approve the contract that brought the strike to an end, the Inquirer is reporting.

Brown told the paper that a faction of the union, Transport Workers Union Local 234, is opposed to the contract partially because of the schedule of pay raises it includes. The same faction has challenged his union presidency in the past.

If the union membership rejects the contract, it wouldn’t mean that the strike would automatically resume. Instead, Brown and the union would try to renegotiate the terms with SEPTA management.

The five-year contract would raise the average union member’s salary from $68,000 a year to $75,000 a year, according to the report. The increases can be covered with money SEPTA has on hand without requiring a fare hike specifically to cover the contract, according to the report. But there’s not much wiggle room, according to Brown and SEPTA management. SEPTA has budgeted $661.8 million for TWU workers in 2016, and $703.4 million in 2017.

Brown says the contract has strong support, but worries that it may be rejected if voter turnout is low. The voting is scheduled for Friday evening from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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